The Jonathan Edwards Center Germany is intended to promote research and teaching on early American religious history, in particular on Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the tradition of New England Puritanism from which he came, and his legacy in contemporary Christianity.
A special interest of the center is in studying Edwards and his world from a transatlantic and comparative perspective that sees the American revivals as part of a much larger “Protestant evangelical Awakening” (Ward), which included the English evangelical movement and the Scottish Cambuslang Wark just as much as Dutch and German Pietism.
Another interest is Edwards’ continuing legacy, and the various ways in which New England Puritanism more broadly is received, adopted, and used.
Directed by Jan Stievermann, the center is a partnership between the Department of Theology and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg with the Jonathan Edwards Center at the Yale Divinity School.
Together these institutions seek to further work on Edwards and early American religious history by supporting and advising related academic projects, by providing primary and secondary source materials, offering seminars, organizing lectures and conferences, as well as by engaging in student and faculty exchange both with Yale and the other international centers.
In addition to the digital resources provided by the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale, which include all of Edwards’s writings (WJE Online), and complementary to the holdings of the Heidelberg university library, we make an effort to collect books and educational materials related to Edwards and early American religious history that can be accessed at the seminar library of the Department of Theology.
Through its activities, the Jonathan Edwards Center, Germany, also wants to function as the hub for a research network connecting institutions and projects with related interests.
Currently, its partners include:
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pastor, revivalist, Christian philosopher, missionary, and college president, is widely regarded as North America’s greatest theologian. He is the subject of intense scholarly interest because of his significance as a historical figure and the profound legacy he left on America’s religious and intellectual landscapes. His writings are being consulted at a burgeoning rate by religious leaders, pastors, and churches worldwide because of the fervency of Edwards’s message and the acumen with which he appraised religious experience. Yet for centuries, scholars and readers of Edwards have had to rely on inaccurate and partial versions of his writings. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, the critical edition of Edwards’s writings, was created at Yale University in 1953 to overcome these obstacles.
But even with the Edwards Works amounting to a 26-volume series, less than half of Edwards’s total writings was available. To provide the entirety of Edwards’s corpus on a global basis, we have created the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online (WJE Online), a digital environment that supports and assists the research, reading, and teaching of Edwards’s writings, primarily through a comprehensive, searchable online database that contains the series published by Yale University Press but also tens of thousands of pages of unpublished computerized transcripts–sermons, notebooks, essays, letters, and personalia–that the Jonathan Edwards Center has on file. Complementing these primary texts are reference works, secondary works, chronologies, and audio, video, and visual sources.
Simply put, no comparable digital resource for an American religious figure exists.
Prof. Jan Stievermann, Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at the University of Heidelberg, is the director of the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany. He has written on a broad range of topics in the fields of American religious history and American literature, including articles for Early American Literature and William and Mary Quarterly. His book Der Sündenfall der Nachahmung: Zum Problem der Mittelbarkeit im Werk Ralph Waldo Emersons (Schöningh, 2007; The Original Fall of Imitation: The Problem of Mediacy in the Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson) is a comprehensive study of the co-evolution of Emerson’s religious and aesthetic thought. Together with Reiner Smolinski, he published Cotton Mather and Biblia Americana–America’s First Bible Commentary (Mohr Siebeck & Baker Academic, 2010). He currently leads a DFG-funded team transcribing and editing vol. 5 of Cotton Mather’s hitherto unpublished Biblia Americana, the first comprehensive Bible commentary produced in British North America. For the Biblia-project as a whole (10 vols.) he also serves as the executive editor.
Ryan Hoselton is a PhD candidate and instructor in church history at Heidelberg University. He works as a research assistant to Professor Stievermann on the Biblia Americana project and the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany. His dissertation explores the intersection between experiential knowledge and piety in the exegesis of Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards.
Daniel Silliman is a Lilly Fellow at Valparaiso University. Silliman did his doctoral work in American Studies with Jan Stievermann at Heidelberg University and taught religious history at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies for five years. Silliman has written on bestselling evangelical novels, the economic history of the Left Behind series, how evangelicals imagine the Bible, class issues in Billy Sunday’s early revivals, the reception of the Heidelberg Catechism in America, and Reformed interpretations of World War I. He also writes regularly about religion and America for the Washington Post.
Jennifer Adams-Massmann is a doctoral student and assistant to Dr. Stievermann and the Jonathan Edwards Center. Her areas of special interest include colonial American religious history, women in American religious history, and revivals and early missions. Her doctoral project focuses on the role of German-speaking women Moravian missionaries in the transatlantic awakening in the mid-18th century, primarily in American Indian missions but also among German-speaking immigrants in the middle Colonies. She is fascinated by intercultural and interreligious exchange along the American frontier.